There are many individuals who will support you as you learn to live with type 2 diabetes. Each has a specialty, but they all have one goal in common, helping you take charge and live well with diabetes. You are a member of the team, in fact, the most important member. You are always there – making daily decisions that will have an impact on your diabetes management. Be sure to ask questions when information isn’t clear, or if you need more information.
There are many people who can help you learn about managing diabetes. Your team will help you safely achieve healthy targets for blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Your physician will prescribe and adjust medications as required, and refer you to a specialist if necessary. Each time you visit with a member of your team, you will have an opportunity to learn more.
There is a lot of diabetes information that can also be found in books, magazines, television shows, support groups and, of course, the internet. Always check to make sure the information is from a reliable source, such as a Certified Diabetes Educator, and that the information is based on the Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines. The CDA offers detailed information on the clinical practice guidelines, as well as a wide range of information about diabetes in general. Visit their website at diabetes.ca.
For the Association of Diabète Quebec, visit diabeteqc.ca.
Your Physician or Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Your physician or NP will work with you to safely achieve healthy targets for blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat levels. Your physician or NP will prescribe and adjust medications as required, and refer you to specialists if necessary. He or she will order lab tests and examinations in order to evaluate your control, and screen for complications. It is important to share your questions and suggestions when meeting with your physician or NP. Keep your diabetes logbook up to date, and bring it with you, so that you can review your glucose readings together. Make notes for yourself between visits so you don’t forget your questions when you arrive for your appointment.
Your Diabetes Nurse
Your diabetes nurse will help you as you adjust to glucose monitoring and new medication regimes such as pills or insulin. He/she will help screen for potential problems by checking your blood pressure and assessing your feet.
Your Podiatrist or Chiropodist
Your podiatrist or chiropodist can help you take care of your feet. They will work with you to prevent foot problems, and if they do develop, offer treatment. Your feet are very important – if you have a foot specialist in your community, plan a visit.
Your Diabetes Educator
Your diabetes educator will explain your diabetes in more detail, covering a wide range of topics. A diabetes educator could be either a nurse or dietitian. They will answer your questions (and your family’s), provide support and give you information that will help you make informed choices. Your diabetes educator will teach you about the tools you can use to control your diabetes – knowledge, physical activity, food choices, monitoring and medications. They will also help you set your own personal goals. You will learn potential problem signs to watch for and preventive measures such as daily foot care, dental and eye check ups. They will discuss how to handle stress, an important factor in controlling blood glucose levels. During follow-up appointments your educator will help you assess your diabetes control, and work with you to find solutions to problems.
Your dietitian will help you develop a personal approach to healthy eating. Taking into consideration your individual nutrition requirements, he or she will support you in achieving your goals, such as healthy meal choices or working towards weight loss. A dietitian will also help you continue to enjoy your favorite foods.
Your pharmacist prepares your medications at the pharmacy or hospital. Many pharmacists have a special interest in diabetes and are certified diabetes educators. They can offer a lot of information about both over-the-counter and prescription medications. If you are unsure which cold medicine to choose, or have other medication questions, your pharmacist is the person to ask. Keep all your prescriptions at one pharmacy. When your pharmacist has a complete list of your prescription and non-prescription medications it helps them identify potential problems, such as drug interactions. Many drugstores stay open long hours and pharmacists are readily available to discuss your needs and answer medication questions.
Your dentist’s goal is to help you prevent problems before they occur. Regular dental care is especially important to prevent problems from occurring when you have diabetes. Be sure to let your dentist know that you have diabetes.
Social Worker, Psychologist or Counselor
A social worker, psychologist or counsellor can offer support when additional help is needed. They can arrange for local assistance to help with financial problems, personal crises or emotional stress.
Your optometrist will examine your eyes and look for any sign of potential problems. In some cases you may be referred to an ophthalmologist. Make sure you let your eye doctor know you have diabetes.